in the august edition of "i've got your back" on wtip, we talk about a crucial stretch for the psoas (SOH-azz) muscle - one of the primary hip flexors, and major culprit in our back pain! some people feel a tightness across the front of their hip, but some folks can have a tight psoas muscle and not realize it. when the muscles on the front side of our body are tight, they put undue strain onto our back muscles and make us more prone to injury. the psoas muscle is in a shortened position while we're sitting, and if we aren't intentional about stretching them, it's easy for them to 'forget' how long and open they can be! they can become habituated to that shortened state.
:: but what exactly is the psoas muscle? ::
the psoas muscle starts on the front side of your vertebrae and cascade down over the front of your pelvis to attach to the inside of your femur bone. you can see how shortening these muscles, contracting them, will pull your leg bone closer to your body, thus "flexing" your hip.
:: psoas stretch ::
there are a lot of ways to stretch this muscle, but my favorite is from a seated position, since you can take a break from all that sitting with this stretch!
turn sideways in your chair and have leg / one cheek still on the chair, and the other leg off the edge of the seat. send your knee down and back, pull your belly button in towards your spine and tuck your tailbone forward, then send the hip you're stretching directly forward. for a little extra sensation, you can lean yourself back on the edge of the chair, away from your opening hip.
you can also do this standing, with one leg stepped a comfortable distance behind the other, and follow the same instructions. tuck your pelvis and push your hip forward, making sure not to arch your lower back.
bonus – winter balance challenge!
it's not winter yet, but the air has turned and there's no doubt we're headed for cooler days. so here's my big bold challenge for you ...
take your age, multiply it by 2 if you're over 50 and by 3 if you're under 50 ... and that's how many seconds you should be able to stand on one leg. really.
you heard me! it's so simple to start practicing. make a chart with three columns labeled "date" "left leg" and "right leg" and time yourself, in seconds, and see how long you can hold your balance on each side. maybe challenge your partner or your friends to do this with you, see who can hit their goal first!
my balancing tips: for your practicing, transfer your weight slowly instead of just mindlessly picking up one foot. keep your eyes on something steady in the distance, at eye level or higher (resist the temptation to look at the ground the whole time!). be really kind with yourself when you wibble and wobble, and hop right back in if you can! if you want a little challenge, try moving your lifted leg around slowly, bringing it in front of you or behind you, or try gently moving your arms while you're balancing.
this is so good for our brains and for our muscles, and will help us be ready when the driveway is icy and the trails are slick! you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll improve.
if you have any questions, about these practices or others, don't hesitate to reach out! my email is email@example.com and i love to chat about bodies :)
listen to the full interview here and stay tuned the last wednesday of the month for "i've got your back" at 8:20(ish) on wtip.org's north shore morning show!